Shelach 5780-2020

“The Torah’s Definition of ‘Power”
(Revised and Updated from Parashat Shelach 5761-2001)

After the sin of the scouts, G-d wishes to destroy the Jewish people. Moses, however, argues with G-d that true “power” means not to destroy, but to forgive, to convert and to transfer from one strongly held attitude to another. G-d and Moses thus ascribe a new meaning to the concept of “power.”

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B’shalach 5780-2020

“Where is Nachshon the Son of Aminadov When We Need Him?”
(Updated and revised from B’shalach 5761-2001)

Nachson the son of Aminadav, the Prince of the tribe of Judah, was the first Israelite to enter the water and walk until the water reached his neck. It was only at that point that the sea split. If we are to change the “course of nature,” for the benefit of humankind, we need to find, and exercise, the profound faith of Nachshon.

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Shemot 5780-2020

“Developing Commitment to Judaism: A Lesson from an Egyptian Prince”
(updated and revised from Shemot 5760-1999)

“Give me four years to teach the children, and the seed I will have sown will never be uprooted.” Thus spoke the Communist leader, V.I. Lenin. Could it be that Moses’s formative rearing at the hands of his mother Jochebed and sister Miriam made the difference? It is highly probable that his early childhood experience, supplemented by his stepmother Bitya’s effective rearing, enabled Moses to develop an exalted sense of Jewish identity, making it possible for Moses to emerge as the greatest Jewish leader of all.

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Devarim 5779-2019

“Judaism’s Unique View of Justice and the Judicial System”
(Revised and updated from Devarim 5760-2000)

In parashat Devarim, Moses delivers his valedictory admonition to the Jewish people. Knowing that the nation’s
security depends significantly on the efficacy of its legal system, Moses reminds the people again and again to be trustworthy in judgment. In this parasha, Moses lays out the foundation of Jewish jurisprudence, a legal system that was unparalleled in the ancient world. Summing it all up, the prophet Isaiah declares that “Zion shall be redeemed in justice, and that those who return to her shall be redeemed through righteousness.”

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Chukat 5779-2019

“Can Death Be Sweet?”
(Revised and updated from Chukat 5761-2001)

In parashat Chukat we learn of the death of Aaron, one of the Jewish people’s most beloved figures. According to the Midrash, Aaron had the privilege of leaving the physical world knowing that his children were following in his footsteps, and committed to serving the Jewish people. Aaron truly has a “sweet demise.”

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Bamidbar 5779-2019

“The Trials of Being a Public Figure”
(Revised and updated from Bamidbar 5760-2000)

In parashat Bamidbar, the Torah declares: “These are the offspring of Aaron and Moses,” but only the offspring of Aaron are listed. From this textual nuance we learn that those who are not blessed with biological children can still be spiritual parents, like Moses was to Aaron’s children. It also underscores the great challenge facing public figures who must try to balance their own lives with the needs of the community.

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Va’eira 5762-2002

"Can We Question G-d and Get Away With It?"

Parashat Va'eira opens with G-d berating Moses for saying that things have only gotten worse for the people of Israel since Moses intervention. Strict interpretation holds Moses accountable for his presumptuousness, eventually resulting in his inability to enter the promised land. The more liberal interpretation implies that G-d desires to be challenged, hoping to find justification that would exonerate those guilty of improper acts.

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Shemot 5762-2001

"The Circumcision of Eliezar: A Message for Busy Parents"

Moses has been summoned by G-d at the burning bush to return to Egypt and lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. Beginning his journey back to the land of Pharaoh, together with his wife and his sons, he stops at an inn where he is encountered by G-d, who seeks to kill him. Moses' wife immediately takes a flint stone and circumcises the youngest child. What is the message that is communicated by this strange and eerie encounter?

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Matot-Masei 5761-2001

"Setting Our Priorities Straight"

In parashat Matot we learn of the tribes of Reuben and Gad (later joined by half of Menashe) who choose to remain on the eastern side of the Jordan. Moses is concerned that they will not join in the battle to conquer the Holy Land. The tribes respond, "We will build pens for our livestock and cities for our small children," and of course they will send troops. Moses, however, corrects them, telling them that their children should come before their livestock. The value of human life is infinite and must always come first, even in a thoroughly materialistic generation such as the one in which we live.

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Chukat 5761-2001

"Can Death Be Sweet?"

In parashat Chukat we learn of the death of Aaron, one of the Jewish people's most beloved figures. According to the midrash, Aaron had the privilege of leaving the physical world knowing that his children were following in his footsteps, and committed to serving the Jewish people. Aaron truly has a "sweet" death.

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Shelach 5761-2001

"The Torah's Definition of Power"

After the sin of the scouts, G-d wishes to destroy the Jewish people. Moses, however, argues with G-d that true "power" means not to destroy, but to forgive, to convert and to transfer from one strongly held attitude to another. G-d and Moses thus ascribe a new meaning to the concept of "power."

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

B’shalach 5761-2001

"Where is Nachshon, the Son of Aminadav, When We Need Him?"

Nachson, the son of Aminadav, the prince of the tribe of Judah, was the first of the Israelites to enter the water and proceed to walk until the water reached his neck. It was only at that point that the sea split. If we are to change the "course of nature," we need to have the profound faith of Nachshon.

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

Va’eira 5761-2001

"The Subtle Slavery"

The Torah tells us that Pharaoh literally had to chase the Jews out of Egypt, not only because Egypt was the country that they knew as their home, but because Egypt embodied values from which they were not prepared to separate. It is this "subtle slavery," embodied in our admiration for, and indeed worship of, alien cultures, that is a cause of concern for Jews, even today.

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0 Comments7 Minutes

Devarim 5760-2000

"Judaism's Unique Views on Justice and the Justice System"

In parashat Devarim, Moses gives his valedictory admonition to the Jewish people. Knowing that the entire nation's security rests on the efficacy of its legal system, Moses reminds the people again and again to be truthful in judgment. In this parasha, Moses lays out the foundation of Jewish jurisprudence, a legal system that was unparalleled in the ancient world. The prophet Isaiah sums it all up by saying that "Zion shall be redeemed in justice and those who return to her shall be redeemed through righteousness."

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Bamidbar 5760-2000

"The Risks of Being a Public Figure"

The Torah announces: "These are the offspring of Aaron and Moses," but only lists the offspring of Aaron. From this textual nuance we learn that those people who are not blessed with biological children can still be spiritual parents, like Moses was to Aaron's children. It also underscores the great challenge facing public figures to balance their own lives with the needs of the community.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

Shemot 5760-1999

"Commitment to Judaism: A lesson from Moshe"

"Give me four years to teach the children, and the seed I will have sown will never be uprooted." Thus spoke the communist leader, V.I. Lenin. Could it be that Moses's formative rearing at the hands of his mother Yocheved and sister Miriam made the difference? It is highly probable that his early childhood experience, supplemented by his stepmother Bitya's effective rearing, leads to Moses's exalted sense of Jewish identity and his emergence as a great Jewish leader.

Read More


0 Comments12 Minutes

Haazinu 5760-1999

"The Final Song"

The final song of Moses is intended to help the Jewish people remember the days of yore. The past is truly vital for Israel, as there is much to be learned from previous generations. Much pain and suffering can be avoided if only the future is approached through the wisdom of the past.

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0 Comments8 Minutes